91. Colossal Optical Anisotropy from Atomic-Scale Modulations91.

H. Mei, G. Ren, B. Zhao, G. Jung, A. Thind, J. Cavin, et al., Advanced Materials (2023)

Hongyan MeiGuodong RenBoyang ZhaoJad SalmanGwan Yeong JungHuandong ChenShantanu SinghArashdeep S. ThindJohn CavinJordan A. HachtelMiaofang ChiShanyuan NiuGraham JoeChenghao WanNick SettineriSimon J. TeatBryan C. ChakoumakosJayakanth RavichandranRohan MishraMikhail A. Kats

In modern optics, materials with large birefringence (Δn, where n is the refractive index) are sought after for polarization control (e.g., in wave plates, polarizing beam splitters, etc.[3]), nonlinear optics and quantum optics (e.g., for phase matching[5] and production of entangled photons[6]), micromanipulation,[7] and as a platform for unconventional light-matter coupling, such as Dyakonov-like surface polaritons[8] and hyperbolic phonon polaritons.[11] Layered “van der Waals” materials, with strong intra-layer bonding and weak inter-layer bonding, can feature some of the largest optical anisotropy[16]; however, their use in most optical systems is limited because their optic axis is out of the plane of the layers and the layers are weakly attached, making the anisotropy hard to access. Here, we demonstrate that a bulk crystal with subtle periodic modulations in its structure — Sr9/8TiS3 — is transparent and positive-uniaxial, with extraordinary index ne =  4.5 and ordinary index no =  2.4 in the mid- to far-infrared. The excess Sr, compared to stoichiometric SrTiS3, results in the formation of TiS6 trigonal-prismatic units that break the infinite chains of face-shared TiS6 octahedra in SrTiS3 into periodic blocks of five TiS6 octahedral units. The additional electrons introduced by the excess Sr subsequently occupy the TiS6 octahedral blocks to form highly oriented and polarizable electron clouds, which selectively boost the extraordinary index ne and result in record birefringence (Δn > 2.1 with low loss). The connection between subtle structural modulations and large changes in refractive index suggests new categories of anisotropic materials and also tunable optical materials with large refractive-index modulation and low optical losses.